Thursday, January 13, 2011

Unloading the post queue

There are many things I'd like to write about, but only a bit of time to do it. So here's a quick list. I'll probably get back to most of these topics sooner or later ...
  • 21st century America is 19th century South Carolina. Instead of plantations we have the titans of Finance. They don't have employees making cars, or slaves picking cotton, they have software moving money. The rest of us are the freemen of the Old South. It's quite stable until the software gets a bit smarter.
  • William Pfaff (like Andy Grove) says America is committing economic suicide by (unlike Germany) abandoning manufacturing. Actually the problem isn't money. We are doing well by skimming the wealth of India and China. The problem is that we're now living in Goldman Sachs plantation.
  • The first golden age of personal computing was multipolar. We had Lotus, Microsoft, WordPerfect, AshtonTate, Apple, Amiga, IBM, Intel, Atari and so on. Then we were bipolar - Microsoft and Apple. Then, for a time, we were monopolar. Now we're multipolar again; we have Apple, Microsoft, Google, Adobe, Facebook, Intel, ARM and so on. In the 1980s we had dueling document formats. In the 10s we have dueling video formats. Multipolar is better for people like me.
  • It took 15 years to defeat email spam. Now we have Demand Media and GoogleFail. Demand Media isn't a parasite like email spammers, it's a Google symbiote. We knew funding the web through marketing was a Faustian bargain, but we didn't know what the price would be. Unintended consequences again.
  • Google's Demand Media problem feels somewhat like the problems of democracy. America's founders tried, with limited success, to tackle these problems by mixing in some aristocracy and autocracy, and avoiding direct voting (government by referendum - ex: 2010 California).
  • xkcd made wikipedia's list of common misconceptions famous. There is a small universe of these lists, including lists of categories of lists (meta-lists and list taxonomies). Geek heaven, and very Aspie.
  • All the interesting business models for healthcare delivery are disruptive. That's true for most businesses, but especially true for American healthcare in 2010.
  • There is a high cost to being #1, but it's a deferred price. There's some level in a hierarchy that has the best tradeoff between personal power and happiness. It's neither the top nor bottom ...
  • Human evolution drove symbol manipulation, but not arithmetic skills. We are much better at math than mosquitofish, but only somewhat better at arithmetic. This explains much of the modern world.
  • The Verizon iPhone will slow US iPad sales. Many iPad users bought them because they didn't have an iPhone, and they didn't have an iPhone because they were Verizon customers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I pretty regularly read things claiming that the USA has lost its manufacturing capabilities and that this is the reason why things are going poorly. But very few of them seem to grapple with the actual data.

For instance, this series says that the USA's manufacturing output peaked in 2007 (just before the recession)

It seems just as likely that the reason we aren't a manufacturing nation any more is the same as the reason we aren't an agricultural nation any more. As we get better at manufacturing and farming, a smaller percentage of the population is needed to make things and grow crops.

It definitely seems likely that the financial sector has become the new rentier class just as the southern aristocrats were in their time. I'm just not sure that this is related to the manufacturing situation.